--Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, in a letter to May Gaskell
Frederick Priestly, 1860
Painted panels by Edward Burne-Jones
This and all related images courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum
The name Edward Burne-Jones immediately puts one in mind of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and theatrical images of languid, titian-haired beauties, rich turquoise and emerald hues and deceptively sparkling waters. Burne-Jones was one of the most influential of the Brotherhood, the conductor of a beautiful orchestra, if you will.
And, so, such an artist should have a lovely instrument. This piano, made in 1860, is the work of Frederick Priestley, an otherwise, as the V&A puts it, unknown piano maker. The piano was presented as a wedding gift to Edward Burne-Jones and Georgiana "Georgie" MacDonald in 1860.
Burne-Jones decorated the otherwise modest and plain instrument's case of American oak with a scene from the Medieval Romance, the Chant d’Amour as an allegory of death--you know, standard wedding stuff.
In her biography, The Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones, Georgie referenced a portrait of Death on the panel below the keyboard of their piano. She described Death as "standing outside the gate of a garden where a number of girls, unconscious of his approach, are resting and listening to music."